Before entering the MSW [Master’s in Social Work] program at Wayne State, I was a Global Studies Adjunct Professor in Northeastern University’s International Studies Program teaching classes on ethics. While I enjoyed teaching and connecting with young students, I realized that I would enjoy even more the kind of long-lasting and meaningful work (impacting others’ lives) that can occur with clinical social work.
(2) Why did you choose to intern at The Women’s Center?
Several of my close friends had already volunteered at the Woman’s Center and recommended the supervision offered by excellent clinicians. My friends also spoke highly of the Woman’s Center environment, which is warm, collegial, and supportive.
(3) What was the biggest challenge about interning at The Women’s Center?
The biggest challenge was being able to do one-on-one therapy with clients who have complicated trauma backgrounds. You have to be fully present and able to engage with another person’s pain and be willing to be witness to this pain and move forward collaboratively. There isn’t the filter of short-term therapy or the mandate of doing cognitive-behavioral work, both of which can shield you from truly “being” with the client. The biggest challenge was also clearly the biggest opportunity.
(4) What was the most valuable lesson that you learned while interning at The Women’s Center?
Working at the Women’s Center taught me the importance of having a warm, supportive community — how this, alone, can make any work-day challenges much easier to navigate. No matter how complicated some of my work with clients could be, I always looked forward to going to The Women’s Center. It became an oasis or a refuge of sorts for me.
(5) How did your experience of interning at The Women’s Center prepare you for your professional career?
If I had not had the experience of doing longer-term therapy at the Women’s Center, I would have much less appreciation for the kind of pacing that is essential for people with complex histories, including trauma. I had an outstanding clinical supervisor, Diane Blumson, who was able to provide excellent wisdom and discernment in helping me navigate the therapeutic process with sometimes very challenging situations.
(6) Can you give an example of your therapeutic approach and philosophy?
I used a person-centered approach with Women’s Center clients, which is based on Carl Roger’s humanistic philosophy. It encourages client-therapist collaboration to bring out, appreciate, and validate the rich and unique qualities that make each person unique. Much of my work involves providing a safe space in which clients can really learn to value their own strengths and inner capacity for growth and personal transformation.
(7) What is your current profession?
Currently, I am a psychotherapy fellow at Psychiatric and Psychological Specialties in Saint Joseph, MI. This is a two-year program: I see approximately 25 clients doing long-term therapy using an interdisciplinary approach (psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, and family systems interventions). I participate in extensive training: multiple one-on- one and small-group pedagogy formats to accelerate the training and learning process of becoming a more effective therapist/clinician.
If there are other important “lessons” that you want to share about your intern experience at The Women’s Center, please go ahead!
It can be easy to take the Women’s Center experience for granted when you are in the middle of a packed school year, having to handle so many requirements for your master’s program. But it is important to understand what a rare and unique opportunity it is. I would recommend meeting with all 11 of the supervisors at The Center — this is an opportunity that is offered every year and it is a wonderful way to draw from very rich but varying perspectives on how to do effective therapy. I also recommend active participation in the weekly seminars (don’t just sit back and let others do the talking.) There is much to be learned by being engaged!
Ultimately, I feel so grateful to have a training experience that was also so emotionally nourishing and a place that felt like my home.